Background/Aims: Psoriasis plaque tests (PPTs) are important tools in the early phases of antipsoriatic drug development. Two distinct PPT design variants (open vs. occluded drug application) are commonly used, but no previous work has aimed to directly compare and contrast their performance. Methods: We compared the antipsoriatic efficacy of mapracorat 0.1% ointment and reference drugs reported in 2 separate studies, representing open and occluded PPT designs. The drug effect size was measured by sonography (mean change in echo-poor band thickness), chromametry, and standardized clinical assessment. Results: Antipsoriatic effects were detectable for the study drugs in both occluded and open PPTs. Differences between the potency of antipsoriatic drugs and vehicle were observable. The total antipsoriatic effect size appeared to be higher in the occluded PPT than the open PPT, despite the shorter treatment duration (2 vs. 4 weeks). Effect dynamics over time revealed greater differences between some study drugs in the open PPT compared to the occluded PPT. Conclusion: Taking the higher technical challenges for the open PPT into account, we recommend the occluded PPT as a standard screening setting in early drug development. In special cases, considering certain drug aspects or study objectives that would require procedural adaptations, an open PPT could be the better-suited design. Finally, both PPT models show clear advantages: classification as phase I studies, small number of psoriatic subjects, relatively short study duration, excellent discrimination between compounds and concentrations, parallel measurement of treatment response, and go/no go decisions very early in clinical development.

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